Arizona, one of the most abortion-restrictive states in the country, has passed a new law that requires doctors to use “all available means and medical skills” to maintain a fetus that’s born alive during an abortion.
This was already federal law, so on the surface it doesn’t seem like a huge deal. But Arizona takes the existing law about ten steps further by obligating doctors to do everything in their power to maintain the life of a fetus — even if it’s born before there’s a chance it could survive outside the womb.
A quick look at the numbers shows that this bill is not only futile, but completely cruel to the woman undergoing the procedure. As of 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 92 percent of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy — which means that the fetus has zero chance of survival. Furthermore, it’s extremely rare for fetuses to be born alive. But when this does happen, the federal law requires that doctors do everything in their power to ensure its survival.
According to Arizona’s new bill, the presence of a heartbeat, breathing, umbilical cord pulsation or "definite movement of voluntary muscles” constitutes “delivered alive” — but doctors are no longer permitted to make case-by-case decisions. None of these characteristics mean the fetus has an increased chance of survival, but Arizona doctors are now required to keep the fetus alive until it becomes crystal clear that it will die. This applies even if the doctor knows the fetus is not viable.
“If the fetus or embryo is born alive, according to the definition in the underlying bill, there is an absolute obligation to resuscitate," Arizona Democratic Rep. Kirsten Engel said. "It will do no more than temporarily prolong the act of dying.”
In addition to being unnecessary, the bill is inhumane to women undergoing the procedure. When a woman exercises her right to choose, she shouldn’t be forced to endure a potentially traumatic process in which the fetus’ inevitable death is drawn-out.